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Ashes

Mason Crane in line for debut in final Ashes Test

by Ffion Wynne
@ffion_wynne 3 minute read

England’s 20-year-old leg-spinner Mason Crane is set for a Test call-up for the final Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, according to head coach Trevor Bayliss.

If selected – and Bayliss appears keen to blood young players now the series is decided and a whitewash avoided – Crane would become England’s third debutant of the series after Craig Overton and Tom Curran.

“With the series lost it gives us the opportunity to look at some different people,” Bayliss said.

“There’s no time like the present to find out if Mason is ready. We think he’s a guy that has got the goods and the more he plays at this level the better he will get. You have got to start somewhere.”

Stuart MacGill has been mentoring Crane

Crane’s place in the XI may cost Curran his spot if conditions favour the spin of Moeen Ali, whose place is also under scrutiny having taken only three wickets in the series so far and averaging 19 with the bat. Replacing Ali, however, would lengthen England’s tail, a significant weakness of England’s game this winter, as Woakes would be required to bat at No.7.

The Hampshire youngster appears confident despite the constant speculation surrounding his inclusion. This confidence perhaps stems from an impressive stint in Australian grade cricket last winter that earned him a surprise Sheffield Shield call-up with New South Wales, providing him with local knowledge if a Test debut does come his way.

“I think Australian pitches helped me – I really enjoy bowling on them, with a bit of extra bounce that you don’t really get at home.”

Moeen Ali could make way for Crane in Sydney

Although his debut would come in a dead-rubber, with England having surrendered the Ashes in Perth, Crane hammered home his confident attitude by adding: “Even if it was a series decider and I was called upon, I’d be confident I could do a job.”

Former Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGill acted as Crane’s mentor during his memorable winter in Sydney last year, and has also joined the England set-up this week as they prepare for the finale. Having been omitted from Hampshire’s first XI at the beginning of the last English season due to unfavourable conditions, and then taking just 16 Championship wickets at 44.68 in 2017, Crane has nevertheless earned the faith of Bayliss and MacGill.

Australia have also added left-arm spinner Ashton Agar to their squad for the final Test, but neither side has yet committed to a two-spinner approach despite the SCG’s reputation as a spin-friendly ground.

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